New High School

Inevitably, there was discussion at our 12 June meeting about Skyline, the new high school. Questioners seemed concerned about opening a new school when the budget was already tight.

“There is a great deal of anger about the new high school being built at a time when cuts to programming are being made. Should we re-evaluate opening Skyline? What are the options, and the pros and cons of each?”

“What is the effect of the new high school on the budget?”

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Done deal

At the meeting, both Superintendent Roberts and Linda Carter (head of the teachers’ union) agreed that opening Skyline was essentially a done deal. New staff were being hired or transferred, and stopping that process now would have few benefits. Both speakers also agreed that opening Skyline addresses one of the key concerns of Ann Arbor parents and citizens: overcrowding at both existing high schools. Both schools are significantly over design capacity now, and that itself has an impact on the educational experience at both schools.

Dr. Roberts also noted that he was aware of at least 40 students who have applied to attend Skyline who would otherwise go to school outside the district. Since the AAPS is funded on a per-pupil basis, attracting students into AAPS schools is one of the few things we can do to increase funding. Dr. Roberts argued that reducing crowding at the two existing high schools, and opening the new facility, makes the AAPS more attractive to students and their families.

Panelists did note that opening Skyline would increase operational expenditures in the budget, but school board Trustee Glenn Nelson noted that the district has been setting aside funds to cover Skyline’s operational expenses, which will help cover its costs when it opens.